After Luke and James each wrote three story treatments for what would become Charlotte’s Journey, James suggested that they should each take the best parts of that initial round of idea development and write three more story treatments.
This was the first idea I came up with when James asked us to concoct three different story outlines each. If you look at what Charlotte’s Journey is becoming, you’ll see a lot of ideas got their start here—before influences from the other outlines, and brainstorming back and forth between James and I, made them better, different, or nothing at all.
I read this for the first time since we initially did this exercise—Charlotte’s Journey sure has come a long way.
There are two places: Town A & Town B.
Town A is pretty aristocratic, there’s a lot of wealth, and brilliance, with no short amount of cunning. They’re going places.
Town B is a bit backwater, but it’s very proud of its heritage. And it is strong.
War would be catastrophic for both [but our audience doesn’t get to know that right away.]
That’s why both sides, their leaders recognizing this, have opted for peace. They’ve sent a team of ambassadors to broker a peace (not an easy thing to do, as there are some bruised egos on both sides, some tricky culture ways to consider, but ultimately, doable). This is what Father and Mother [Prota’s parents] have been sent out to do; broker the peace (they now how catastrophic a war would be).
See, in war, Town A would, hands down, win. Straight up, pretty much anyone with a brain (and a whole lot of political / military / intelligence) sees that [FYI: Prota doesn’t. She’s young, naive, and really, really loves her Grak, The Barbarian Queen stories; more on that in a bit]. However, Town B doesn’t go down without a fight—they hurt Town A, badly. Their basically crippled. AND they still have to divide their remaining forces to occupy Town B, and protect their own, which…they wouldn’t be able to do successfully. Outside sources [that we don’t learn about, probably, in this story] would crush them after. Both Town A and B would be wiped out, consumed, etc. So, needless to say, both are really gunning for this peace.
Enter the Villain. He knows what would happen if war starts. And he wants that to happen. See, he’s from Town B, and he’s very proud of his heritage…although he, too, enjoys his “historic” stories, and feels Town B leadership has…slipped, in recent decades. He’s ready for a hey-day, and boy oh boy, if he isn’t just the one to give it to them!
(Villain backstory: Raised by his mother [never knew his dad, maybe?], she was a brilliant let’s call her magicist [think scientist meets wizard] [alternatively, last night I wrote down “Architects”–>what our world calls wizards. But in the light of day I may not like that anymore], and she had a lot of new ideas and the skills to make them real. But, she was a little consumed with one idea: finding a way to let her son walk again. That’s right, our Villain’s legs are crippled [birth, accident, I don’t know yet]. But this is very important to her. So she enlists her son’s aid—who’s smart, but not as much as dear old mum. He’s more of an innovator, rather than an inventor. Anyways, he becomes her assistant throughout his childhood, so he learns a bunch of stuff. He knows how to use, repair, and play with “Stark-Armour” in all its form, but is not able to create a new form. Mum dies, Villain grows up. … I need more reason why he wants his people of Town B to be strong, so we’ll fill that in later … and takes his Stark-Legs (yup, mom found the tech) and begins plotting. He was always more of a brilliant schemer, than an inventor.
He knows by killing the ambassador Mother and Father, it’ll destabilize the talks. There’s a really big sword that was to be offered to Town B—to appease the ways of Town B—and it’s never going to make it to TB, if he has his way…
Big fireball (or something more grounded) later, Mother and Father are toast (pun intended). Prota manages to survive.
Why? Maybe because she spends her days wistfully imagining the life of being a Barbarian Queen / Hero / Adventurer. Maybe she just got lucky [spoiler, it was probably that last one.] But she does, and she’s a bit hearbroken, I mean, Mother and Father are dead! Even though she didn’t really understand them (She’s about … 14. Ish?) And she’s been TOTES BORED at a fortnight of negotiations. She’s about ready to burst. Perhaps she was excited to see Town B a little, because they’re closer to the barbarian hero traditions she’s so fond of—or something.
Anyway, she’s spent her childhood reading about Grok, the Barbarian Queen, and idolizes this character.
[SIDENOTE: I came up with the first collaboration we could ask for from someone else, and I even know who. See, what if we get someone to actually write some Grok, BQ pulp like stories? I’m thinking very routed in the tradition of the pulps, and very straightforward (much more than ours) on the whole, good vs bad, hero vs villain, etc. And even better, these trashy pulp stories are kind of taken as history, because they are based on history (very, very loosely). So whatever is written in the pulps will actually inform what the actually history of the world was, however, the pulps have obviously been embellished by the writers / editors to make a lot of bucks. So the history, when it gets created, is much more grounded and barely resembles the pulps at all. SIDENOTE OVER.]
She takes it as real history, not ever bothering to think that life is just a bit more complicated that “You are evil, I shall smite you with my righteous sword and be done with your evil deeds!” In fact, she can’t see why Town A doesn’t just conquer Town B—everyone talks about how they’d win the war, so just do it! Show some might already, gah… (“It doesn’t matter if we get the sword there, dad, we can just conquer Town B instead.”) Her mother and father, who are a little forbidden (state secrets, you know) from outright telling her what would happen in a war, try to teach her that diplomacy is the better course, and leads to more fruitful results (also, that war would end up destroying both of the Towns). She doesn’t quite get it by the time they’re facing down a firey ball of fire (named Henry), and this, good sir, shall be her emotional / intellectual journey, and tie heavily into her boon.
So, folks dead, barely survived, is all like “What the donks! Die, Town B, die!”, Prota is ready to run back to Town A to tell them to saddle up (and, inside, hoping she’ll have a chance to finally prove her own mettle, which she has been afraid she’d never be able to do as a diplomats’ daughter). But maybe dear old Daddy isn’t done just yet, and with his last energy, tells her she must show up to the final meeting, half-way between the towns (they were almost there, and the sword must be delivered). Tell the TB diplomat what happened.
She thinks this is wrong, but its her dad, so she says “Okay. I’ll deliver the sword just up the road.” Somewhere in here will be the refuse the call, and accept the call…in fact, this part may be wrong. Maybe they make it to the meeting, and it gets blown up… I’m not sure. Either way, she goes on a bit, with the sword (probably just to have a chance to wield the sword—her parents were pacifists? That’s why they talked it out? Hmmm—something her folks never let her learn.
Shit still keeps getting real, and regardless of what happens, someone is going to have to get the sword all the way back to Town B, otherwise the Town B-ians will not accept that a pact was made, that Town A ever meant truce, and their code of honour or something will demand they attack. So, finally, Prota takes up the sword and says she’ll do it (as she’s the only one close enough. Oh yeah, there’s a time limit. Like, a week or something. Sword has to be back, or honour is not met, the codes are broken, blah blah something TOWN B IS PISSED.) Classic stuff.
So she sets off on Her Hero’s Journey!
Along the way she will meet Gaston. I don’t know how, where, or why.
Lot’s of dot dot dots on this one. But, he’s the lovable jerk—like, fucking jerk, stop making me like you. Jerk (or whatever), so he’s important.
Also, she meets Blue-Y. He’s walking, sentient, magic infused pile o’ bones. Literally. With a blue fire haircut.
Let me go back a bit—
See, the Villain, he needs an army of somesort to be able to conquer Town A & B after their shitastic war (maybe part of his feels is that Town A has taken all the wealth that rightfully should have been Town B’s…something. Anywho) before someone else crushes both, it must be him. So he’s been building an army. Of skeleton monsters. Reanimated bones with GREEN glowing fire haircuts; they don’t think too much, or are that strong, but there are a lot of them (he’s been planning for awhile) and they are going to reek some havoc on behalf of his mad will.
The skeleton army, it works based on the same tech that makes his legs move. See, he’s an innovator, not a creator. He’s using his dead-ma’s idea, twisting it horribly, for some mad evil gains. But he’s also been poking with it a bit, maybe trying to make some generals or something, and Blue-Y, he’s a misfire; a mistake; a poor prototype. So he gets ditched in “the trash”, and that’s where Prota meets him, on the side of a lake in the forest she’s passing through.
She attacks him—glowy skeleton, who wouldn’t?—and hilarity ensues. Maybe the skeleton waxes a little philosophical; definitely questioning its existence. Some stuff like that. They become allies (and eventually, friends). Quest continues. (PS – When Gaston comes on the scene, he’s going to attack Blue-Y too, to even more hilarious results—because, jerk thinks, I MUST protect the damsel from an evil skeleton. Even though they are CLEARLY chummy and whatnot.) Anywho.
More stuff happens. Don’t know what, but it gets us through the forest, over the hills, learning lessons, facing the Hero’s Journey Elements—to Town B.
(Also, turns out, it’s a lot harder to wield a giant sword that Grok taught Prota. Damn thing is just so big!…(this is part of the hilarity when she tries attacking Blue-Y upon meeting it.).)
This is where I have a couple ideas. The ultimate lesson Prota is learning is that there are other ways to be a hero. She’s not going to, personally (at least obviously) save the day; she’s going to let Gaston do that. (Because he can actually lift the sword.) She’s refused anyone else touching the sword, let alone using it, because one made up quirk of Grok was that she made her own weapons, and never used one after someone else touched / wielded it, because they “we’re weaker” or some such silly shenanigans.
But in the end, Prota will hand it over to Gaston, who will either use it against the Villain’s fly-ey pants (I had a vision of the Villain saying, in the climax “My mother always wanted to see me walk…now, she will see me soar!” And he does some levitate, fly-boy kind of stuff. (Probably, this move, though it makes him look more badass, actually opens him up to be taken down more easy? I’m rambling now. Don’t worry about it. ;-}) Anywho, Gaston has sword, physically beats on Villain to victory (ironic?).
Perhaps, Prota doesn’t even go into the final battle; she sends Gaston instead to do that part, because as she will come to learn, there is more than one way to be a hero, and it’s not enough just to win the battle—you must be able to live, after. Potential element: giving G the sword to use on Villain will break it, thus breaking the symbol of peace the two Towns worked out. Which is maybe why she’s not “at” the final fight, because she must go play the diplomat, soothe the tension with Town B so they’ll still agree to the peace, despite the lack of the sword (maybe a whole “I am your sword. I was forged by parents in the crucible of talk and diplomacy, and cooled upon the coo staged here by one of your own. I … blah blah real heroic speech. Or something.)
BAM! She is a hero, though not the kind she tried to be at the start (she finalized the peace between two about to war towns; her parents would be proud; and she can start integrating the two towns into one, glorious City-Being that will step this world forward into the future! She’ll be a diplomat, just like her parents—but I see her, regardless, still learning to use a sword. Also, that sometimes you do need violence. I like the idea of her future—beyond this story—being that she becomes a “barbarian Queen” [PS – I’ve been using the word ‘barbarian’ to mean a lot of things in this outline, me thinks] herself, paralleling the real world struggles that the real Grok would have done. Or something like that. Maybe she’s still just a pacifist, like her folks, but that’s not feeling right At This Moment. Crafting the story will show us what she should be.
Some General Notes:
- Blue-Y, he’s important, because Prota is going to do something to make the skeleton army not a threat. And afterwards, she turns them over to Blue-Y. He becomes their leader, with plans to teach them all to think, or be a hive mind, or a spiritual army for good or balance, or … something for another story, another time. Anyways: he takes them away. Where? No one knows. They disappear (probably for a really long time) and now there’s a skeleton army that someone can tell a story about one day. Maybe they pass away, through and past the Goat-Realm [oh yeah, whatever happens, the Goat-Realm exists], into the ether, to learn, grow, and evolve.
- …Also, when Blue-Y comes back, he rides a mighty Goat-god steed. Be-ywwww! That’s how Blue-Y rolls…
- There’s a moment where Blue-Y, because he is a piece of magic tech himself, looks up to the sky (with Prota and Gaston around) and says “Can you not feel its presence? It’s coming? [referring to a magic storm about to hit them]. He holds up his bone hand to the sky, glows a bit more, and his bones kind of separate and dance around in place as the storm hits. Being there, he kind of pulls more of the magic at the group than would normally happen. Like with static, Gaston’s hair frizzes up all over. The first wave of the storm passes, it did whatever magic storms do on this world [we’ll chat about that] and G says “Blast you, my hair! I need water, immediately!” as he fumbles in his pocket for some hair cream or something, and runs off.
- The Villain might have traveled around the world, collecting bones from cemeteries. That seems like it might complicate things… but he needs to have gotten those bones from somewhere. He can’t just “magic them up”. So, stuff to think about.